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The Jewish holiday of Passover begins at sundown on Monday night. The celebratory meal, the Seder, is one of the most universally observed rituals in our tradition. Jews and non Jews alike sit together, share traditional food and explore the central theme of Passover.

As human beings we are entitled to be free, and we have a responsibility to help others be free. Thats why we must begin by asking the central question of the evening: What does it mean to be free? At the Seder, the notion of freedom is about freedom from slavery – from the enslavement that the ancient Israelites experienced – and from enslavements today.

This ritual, repeated year after year, is designed to reinforce both the commitment to keep the value of freedom front and center to help remember that the past is a most critical factor in determining the future. Indeed, remembrance is the vehicle that enables us to be truly free. The annual reenactment of enslavement serves to remind us to avoid using our freedom to restrict the freedom in others. The Seder makes us confront the consequences of lacking freedom in visceral ways- tears symbolized by salted water, plagues recollected one by one, and poor mans bread- unleavened bread that is like a cracker and called matzah. Yet along with the weightiness of the themes of the Seder experience we are commanded to sing joyously, sit back in comfortable chairs and eat hors doeuvres in the way that the rich merchants of Ancient Greece would have done 2,000 years ago.

Repetitive rituals in religion are meant to remind us that certain values are so important that they have to be woven into the very fabric of the experience of faith. The tension between slavery and freedom is one such theme in the Jewish tradition. At Passover we celebrate freedom from slavery. Often overlooked is that the tradition takes this theme much further. Whereas Passover is understood as freedom from slavery, there is another lesser known holiday seven weeks later that ends a cycle in which we are to take what we learn from the Seder and build on it. This lesser known holiday is called Shavuot. The holiday celebrates the giving of the Torah, the five books of Moses, to the Israelites on Mt. Sinai.

This giving symbolizes the awesome responsibility that freedom embodies. The idea here is that the concept of freedom is not a static one, we can be free from something and still misunderstand the very nature of freedom. Freedom from slavery is a moral imperative. But it must lead to freedom to perform moral and righteous actions that freedom from slavery allows us, another moral imperative. The movement of freedom from to freedom to completes the purpose of the Seder ritual. Escaping slavery is only the first step on a journey that culminates with the acceptance that as members of a just society we must accept upon ourselves the obligation to act – to embrace a particular set of laws and social norms.

But this obligation to be free to commit ourselves to a just society is also not a simple concept. There are three categories of this obligation in the Jewish tradition. In one category is the relationship between human beings and God; in another, the relationship between one person and another; in the third, the relationship between humanity and the earth which enables us to live and gives us sustenance. These three sets of relationships form a triangle such that our obligations to God inform the way we are obligated to treat our fellow human being and the way we can expect to be treated. It also informs the way we treat the earth upon which we live. The theme of the holiday of Shavuot is that by including God, all of our interactions can be elevated. In a very real sense, Gods inclusion was meant to mitigate what might be our default position – indifference or worse – to our fellow human beings and disregard for the earth from which we are made and which sustains us, nurtures us and to which our bodies return upon death.

Passover is the celebration of freedom from oppression, and Shavuot is the celebration of the obligations that we freely accept upon ourselves as creatures of God destined to live our lives with infinite other beings on one shared space we call earth. At this time of year, we can all look at what we require to be free from in order to be free to find our own potential and the potential of our world.

Dr. James Hyman is CEO of the Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning.

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The ritual and freedom of Passover

Published: Sunday, March 11, 2012 at 5:27 p.m. Last Modified: Sunday, March 11, 2012 at 5:27 p.m.

Recent tension between health care advocates and predominantly Catholic institutions about preventive health care measures that include insurance coverage for contraceptives has again highlighted conflicts involving religious freedom. It’s not a new debate.

Religious organizations have sought and occasionally received exemptions from rules that apply to others. Courts have examined religious exemption clashes case by case; for example, protecting the ability of churches to make core religious decisions, but denying broader claimed exemptions from health and safety regulations.

Lawyers, scholars and civil libertarians have differed on how to resolve conflicts between sometimes competing values: an individual’s right to exercise religious expression free of government regulation; the need to uniformly enforce neutral rules on important issues like rules barring employment discrimination, the obligation of government not to interfere in the core mission of religious institutions and the need to safeguard the religious freedom of those of one religious faith (or no religious faith) from being subjected to the rules of others’ faith. The government’s efforts to ensure that all women have access to contraceptives as part of the national health care law is creating conflict with the Catholic Church and some religiously affiliated organizations. The government’s current plan is to require that insurance companies provide coverage for contraceptives for women not only to regulate fertility but that doctors also prescribe to treat a variety of medical conditions. (This includes women whose religious principles do not bar the use of contraceptives.)

But this most recent flare-up is especially troubling in Florida. Here, some of the same groups that are demanding exemption, based on religious freedom, from parts of the national health care plan are, at the same time, asking voters to give them long-forbidden access to tax dollars to help fund their religious activities.

This radical departure from Florida’s 125-year constitutional tradition of “no aid” to religious institutions will appear as proposed Amendment 8 on November’s ballot, written by the Legislature in a cleverly deceptive way that is designed to seduce voters into supporting “religious freedom.” On closer inspection, “religious freedom” means the “freedom” to get access to tax dollars.

These Florida groups want to exempt themselves from some government laws if those laws conflict with their religious practices, while insisting that government fund those very same religious practices. They want the money but not the rules.

That position seems a bit hypocritical. It is also short-sighted. Many defenders of religious liberty and far-sighted faith leaders oppose government funding of religion in part because government money comes with government strings. It’s naive to think that government will not require recipients of public funds, including religiously affiliated institutions, to account for how those funds are spent.

By asking to be let out of rules that apply to everyone else, churches also are creating a slippery slope. If churches can opt out of policies that infringe on their beliefs, taxpayers might claim the right to opt out of paying taxes used for religious practices they don’t support. They also may want to opt out of having to pay taxes for even nonreligious uses they disagree with or that violate their conscience, such as funding wars or providing foreign aid.

But we can’t. Taxes aren’t optional.

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Having it both ways on ‘religious freedom'

A well-defined brand no longer guarantees search placement. It is only through enterprise-level cultural changes, informed by a close monitoring of search evolution, that sustained SEO success can occur.

Yes, brands are still a very strong signal when it comes to ranking, however, recent advancements like authorship rank and Search Plus Your World have hyper-focused our promotion strategies.

A presumption of entitlement drives many legacy brands to complacency. Too often, we see an organization enjoy a few years of strong search results and then relax into weve got that covered mode, allowing its focus, vital resources and attention to shift to other initiatives.

But it is essential for any in-house marketer/SEO/embedded strategist to push past the corporate ego and bureaucracy to assess and identify changing technical / editorial barriers while protecting the protocol vital to traffic success.

The first sign of internal SEO procedures breaking down is often a competitor doing it better, faster and using your own assets. Nothing gets your boss attention faster than a competitor outranking you with your own ideas or contentnot necessarily via scraping or syndication, but by rewriting or covering popular stories with better optimization.

Sometimes getting beaten is a simple misstepa missed title tag on your partbut it could also be indicative of larger problems with your content creation process, from execution of best practices to keyword research to XML sitemap inclusion.

In SEO, all roads lead back to editorial. Content producers (who already have plenty to do) find and amplify the voice of a company, guarding the brands editorial integrity. But the days of search engine optimization responsibilities falling to another department are long gone.

In this age, content teams are expected to fully understand their audience. In fact, audience cultivation is their obligation. This means content producers must perform regular keyword research around their topics, identifying search and seasonal trends, monitoring news and user behavior and integrating the data back into the workflow, style guides and processes.

A lot of this information is already well known. For example, ask anyone on the editorial team and Im sure theyll know if readers use the search phrase picture over photo. But they can do more.

Thats not to say the SEO specialists shouldnt be involved as well. SEO advisers can still educate and guide the process. But if keyword research isnt decentralized, a bottleneck of tremendous proportions can effectively kill this critical step in strategy.

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Why So Many Companies Fail At Enterprise SEO


21-10-2011 21:01 Her latest piece: huff.to The First Amendment and the Obligation to Disrupt in a Free Society For more of this episode youtu.be Wolf arrest video youtu.be NOW WATCH THIS! www.youtube.com

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SHOCKING ~ What happened to Naomi Wolf AFTER she got arrested – Video

Students Can Learn to Prepare Taxes with No ObligationVirginia Beach, VA (PRWEB) August 08, 2011 The average American worker may hold at least 5-7different career jobs during their lifetime, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With unemployment still about 9%, many job seekers have even more interest in diversifying their skill sets and exploring instruction and higher education options …

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Liberty Tax’s Fall Tax Classes May Offer a First Step to a New Career

Notifications & Circulars.

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– Prevention of Money-laundering Second Amendment Rules, 2010 …

Double Taxation is the obligation to pay multiple taxes with regards to the same income, assets, of financial transactions.

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Double Taxation | My Offshore Companies



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